Nigerian online gifting startup Showlove plans east Africa expansion

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 27 December 2021 19:11

Showlove CEO Chikodi Ukaiwe. Photo supplied.

So you didn’t like your Christmas presents? Again? Nigerian gifting service Showlove is aiming to make such disappointments a thing of the past.

Gifting is “a fundamental part of human relationships,” CEO Chikodi Ukaiwe tells The Africa Report. Ukaiwe, who previously worked at Jumia and Konga, believes disappointment can be cut out of the process.

“We want anyone in Africa to be able to buy anything for anyone.” It should be possible to make online gifts as diverse as equity from any major world stock market, airtime or health insurance, he says. Showlove, which has more than 10,000 users, aims to expand to Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania as well as Ghana in the coming six months, Ukaiwe says.

Ukaiwe and co-founders Joshua Biyere and Seye Bandele set up Showlove in 2020. The first iteration was a non-profit venture aiming to help Nigerian businesses stay afloat during Covid-19 restrictions by helping them to presell services which could be redeemed later, says Ukaiwe. Since August 2021, Lagos-based Showlove has turned itself into a for-profit business.

The company believes that Covid-19 will stimulate online gifting between friends and loved ones who now find it harder to see each other. Showlove, which is regulated by Nigeria’s central bank, charges commissions on its services of setting up gift cards for merchants, and enabling individuals to send cash or gifts. Users of its social platform can compile wishlists and buy gifts for others using digital wallets.

  • Spa treatments are the best-selling gift category, with cash in second place, Ukaiwe says. Showlove is also planning to expand into corporate gifts.
  • The company opened a seed round in December in which it is seeking $2m.
  • Ukaiwe plans to use the money to build a mobile app. “Everyone is asking for one.”
  • The company raised a $300,000 pre-seed funding round in August. The current seed round values the company at $10m, so the co-founders will keep majority control.
  • Ukaiwe’s aim is for Showlove, which is already backed by Fedha Capital, to be profitable within three to five years.

Bottom line

Showlove is confident that online gifting can be turned into a profitable business across Africa.

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